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WORK OUT HARD. EXPOSE YOURSELF TO ALIEN RAYS. GET BORN A MUTANT. HAVE A GRUDGE.


All stories written by Grant Morrison.


B O O K

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SEVEN SOLDIERS OF VICTORY


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THE STORYTELLING CHALLENGE INTRODUCTION BY GRANT MORRISON

ISLAND OF THE MIGHTY J L

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A D V E N T U R E S

SEVEN SOLDIERS OF VICTORY 0

THE L AS T OF CAMEL O T S H I N N I N G

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FROM TIS WORLD TO THAT WHICH IS TO COME K L A R I O N

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ART AND COVERS: ED MCGUINNESS W/ DEXTER VINES COLOR: DAVE MCCAIG LETTERS: PHIL BALSMAN ART AND COVER: ED MCGUINNESS W/ DEXTER VINES COLOR: DAVE MCCAIG LETTERS: PHIL BALSMAN ART AND COVER: ED MCGUINNESS W/ DEXTER VINES COLOR: DAVE MCCAIG LETTERS: PHIL BALSMAN ART AND COVER: J.H. WILLIAMS III COLOR: DAVE STEWART LETTERS: TODD KLEIN ART AND COVER: SIMONE BIANCHI COLOR: NATHAN EYRING LETTERS: ROB LEIGH ART AND COVER: CAMERON STEWART COLOR: MOOSE BAUMANN LETTERS: PATRICK BROSSEAU ART: RYAN SOOK WITH MICK GRAY COLOR: NATHAN EYRING LETTERS: JARED K. FLETCHER COVER: RYAN SOOK ART AND COVER: FRAZER IRVING LETTERS: PATRICK BROSSEAU

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MOOD 7 MIND DESTROYER S H I N N I N G

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A BOOK IN THE BEGINNING Z

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THE PERFECT KNIGHT RETURNS

ART AND COVER: CAMERON STEWART

SIEGE AT CENTURY HOLLOW

COLOR: MOOSE BAUMANN LETTERS: PATRICK BROSSEAU ART AND COVER: FRAZER IRVING LETTERS: PATRICK BROSSEAU

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THREE DAYS OF THE DEAD

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SEX SECRETS OF THE NEWSBOY ARMY! G

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BURN, WITCHBOY! BURN! K L A R I O N

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BALLISTIC: HOW THE BULLETEER BEGAN B

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WHO KILLED SEVEN SOLDIERS? B

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ART AND COVER: CAMERON STEWART COLOR: MOOSE BAUMANN LETTERS: PATRICK BROSSEAU ART AND COVER: FRAZER IRVING LETTERS: PATRICK BROSSEAU ART AND COVER: PASQUAL FERRY COLOR: DAVE MCCAIG LETTERS: PATRICK BROSSEAU ART: RYAN SOOK WITH MICK GRAY COLOR: NATHAN EYRING LETTERS: JARED K. FLETCHER COVER: RYAN SOOK ART AND COVER: YANICK PAQUETTE WITH MICHAEL BAIR COLOR: ALEX SINCLAIR LETTERS: PHIL BALSMAN ART AND COVER: DOUG MAHNKE COLOR: JOHN KALISZ LETTERS: PHIL BALSMAN ART: FREDDIE WILLIAMS II AND BILLY DALLAS PATTON COLOR: DAVE MCCAIG LETTERS: NICK J. NAPOLITANO COVER: PASQUAL FERRY ART AND COVER: YANICK PAQUETTE WITH SERGE LAPOINTE COLOR: ALEX SINCLAIR LETTERS: PHIL BALSMAN ART AND COVER: DOUG MAHNKE COLOR: JOHN KALISZ LETTERS: PHIL BALSMAN


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21S T C E N T U R Y S C HI Z O ID S U P E R ME N B

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FOREVER FLAVORED MAN M I S T E R

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C O A T

SEVEN SOLDIERS OF VICTORY 1

T HE E V OL U T ION OF S E V EN S OL DIER S C H A R A C T E R D E S I G N S , S C R IP T S A ND A NN O TAT I O N S

M O D U L A R A N A L Y S I S

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“The storytelling challenge I’ve been dreaming of... to do stuff no one’s ever done before and show fans things they’ve never seen”.


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he SEVEN SOLDIERS concept grew out of a desire to recreate some of the brilliant but often overlooked minor characters from the DC Universe. After tackling just

about all of the major players at both DC and Marvel, I felt I needed a tougher challenge, and launching a bunch of new books into a reactionary market seemed just about hardcore enough. Trouble is, there’s only so much you can do with the Big Guns, only so far you can go before you break them or repeat yourself, so against all reason, I chose to take the difficult road that let to characters who were capable of change. Characters with no baggage, who could be plunged into outrageous life or death situations with no guarantee that they would recover or even survive. I wanted suspense, danger, crime, magic, fantasy, horror, romance and apocalypse all wrapped up in a cycle of hard-hitting, imaginative super-hero stories. Above all, I figured it was about time to take the super-hero concept in some unexpected directions, by spotlighting a group of costumed men and women with very different desires and motivations from those of the traditional comic book super-hero. To this end, I delved into my tattered comics collection and selected a bunch of great DC characters who had super powers but weren’t necessarily super-heroes, allowing me to explore ideas of superhumanity and heroism from a slightly different angle. I knew also that, while I wanted my stories to be emotionally “realistic”, a “real world” setting, à la books like Watchmen or The Ultimates, just couldn’t provide the backdrop I needed, whereas the DCU was fertile with narrative possibility, bizarre life and unexplored corners. In the end, I would up with two notebooks full of notes, drawings and costume revamps and about ten or eleven new series ideas, of which we eventually settled on seven: MISTER MIRACLE, ZATANNA, THE GUARDIAN, KLARION THE WITCHBOY, BULLETEER, SHINNING KNIGHT and FRANKENSTEIN. Each character was awarded a 4-issue introductory miniseries, with a first issue origin story, a well-defined opening character arc and enough conceptual fuel to run for years, if fan support demanded an ongoing title. In each case the original intention was to transform a neglected, third-string, C-list DC property into a strong commercial feature with franchise development potential. In every case, this meant reimagining the character from the ground up, with the emphasis on fresh new ideas, unusual angles, new “costumes”, new situations, new supporting casts and wild new adventures unlike anything currently available in the pages of other comics’ titles.


To further emphasize the uniqueness of SEVEN SOLDIERS, much of the action takes place in a seldom-explored cranny of the DCU—New York City! Sandwiched between futuristic Metropolis and brooding Gotham, the underachieving “Cinderella City” (two big ugly sisters, geddit?) has taken on a vivid life of its own as the stage for these 21st century champions to play out their dramas of loss, redemption, transcendence, failure and death.

something quite different: An epic cape fantasy, with a cast of hundreds, a deadly threat and a weave of interconnecting storylines which combine to reveal a terrifying big picture.

Once I had chosen the seven characters I wanted to use, I couldn’t help but think of ways to link all the titles together. I started to think of the seven as a team, and imagined a superteam whose members never actually meet one another but who still must work together somehow to save the world from a devastating, well-prepared and seemingly unstoppable threat.

You know you’re going to love it.

Although each issue in SEVEN SOLDIERS—and indeed, each miniseries—was completely self-contained, I found that I was able to have characters in one book affect the lives of characters in another, so what began with a random handful of disconnected titles eventually mutated into

GRANT MORRISON

Only by reading all 30 issues of SEVEN SOLDIERS (collected here, mind you) will readers be able to piece together the world-shaking event which draws these seven into the adventure of their lives.

Same old universe. All new heroes. And seven is the luckiest number of all, they say...


THE EVOLUTION OF SEVEN SOLDIERS CHARACTER DESIGNS, SCRIPTS AND ANNOTATIONS


Modular Narrative

and Seven Soldiers of Victory

P UBL ISHED ORIGIN A L LY IN sequa r t.org i A R T ICL E S


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s near as I can tell, this is all Grant Morrison’s fault. The very path I find myself walking has prob-

ably been inspired as much by him as anyone. It began with an off-hand comment in an interview on the PopImage website. Morrison mentioned that he had “developed a ‘modular storytelling’ technique.” I’m an English major, so I just had to bite. “What is modular storytelling?”

Modular storytelling became a field of study with the rise of video games. Where narrative had traditionally been a passive experience for the audience, video games incorporated the audience (in this case, the player) in the story in a very active way. As video games grew more technologically complex, the stories occasionally followed. While game narrative remains largely linear, optional side quests and backstories began to develop. These optional elements could be experienced at any point in the game. They were not required, but they added new challenges or story elements. In the case of a game like Final Fantasy VII, an optional character (Vincent) fills in backstory to the main plot. It is not necessary to add this character to your team; you can still enjoy the main narrative without him. Finding him, however, adds new details to a game that already has a complex story. Essentially, modular storytelling has become a method of storytelling that is a nonlinear arrangement of equal, yet complete, modules. Each module may be understood by itself, but when combined with other modules, it becomes a larger, deliberate narrative. (I say “deliberate” here because it could be argued that all comics are modular in some way. Each individual title in a given crossover could be seen as modular.) Due to this modular arrangement, the audience has the option of not passively consuming the story. And so Grant Morrison, being the mad, tripped-out genius that he is, decided to incorporate this storytelling method to a comic book. That project became DC’s Seven Soldiers of Victory. Seven Soldiers of Victory has been a recurring team throughout DC’s history, but Grant Morrison’s version involved a team of seven minor DC figures fighting off a prehistoric invasion force of Sheeda warriors. The Sheeda were a race that existed long before humans, and they travel through time, ravaging human civilization for sustenance. After each invasion, they leave just enough humans alive to seed the next civilization. They live in constant awareness of a prophecy that speaks of their downfall at the hands of seven soldiers, thus any grouping of seven warriors is attacked. This is the metanarrative of the series. A group of metaphysical architects (or should that be “editors”) decides to bring together one final team of seven to finally destroy The Sheeda. This time, however, the members would never meet one another. If there is no overt grouping of seven, then there is nothing for the Sheeda to observe and attack. Each member fought their individual battles, and each victory contributed to the meta-victory. Each character’s involvement in the story, therefore, is a module.


What finally made me fall in love with this series is the format. Seven Soldiers begins with Seven Soldiers #0, runs through seven four-issue miniseries, and concludes with Seven Soldiers #1. Each miniseries gives a separate story; each character plays with his or her piece of the puzzle. Some of the characters have more explicit encounters with the Sheeda, while others seem to have no encounters. Seven Soldiers #1 shows how all the plot threads are connected. And what I love about this format is that it almost appears to be a jumbled mess. When I first read it, I had a lot of trouble making sense of it. I merely dismissed this as the Grant Morrison style. But this is a half-truth. Seven Soldiers is modular storytelling with a Grant Morrison spin. He is applying to print what has traditionally not existed in print (except, possibly, in table-top RPGs and Choose Your Own Adventure books). Seven Soldiers may be read in any order. Each miniseries gives clues to the metanarrative; each miniseries may answer questions posed in another miniseries. At no point is there a major, all-encompassing info-dump about the Sheeda. The audience is left to pick up the clues as best they can. This is a series that rewards multiple readings. I believe that the enjoyment of Seven Soldiers hinges on how much work the reader is willing to put into it. The way in which each module is intertwined with the other modules and the metanarrative is often mind-blowing. We get the typical super-hero crossover, in which our heroes repel an epic threat to the Earth. We also get to see the family dynamics of The Sheeda’s queen Morgayne. She’s a bad mother and a bad wife. Her husband Melmoth left her long ago, as did her daughter, who becomes Zatanna’s apprentice. We get to see The Shining Knight fall through time from Camelot to present day; we see Zatanna deal with powerful forces she accidentally unleashed when she tried to conjure her perfect man; we see Klarion the Witch Boy seek adventure; and so on (times seven). Each miniseries takes on its own topic and story but also offers clues to the history of The Sheeda and the Harrowing. Secondary characters flow in and out each module, in much the same way characters from Lost have interconnected pasts. And through the actions of the modular characters, the Seven Soldiers of prophecy emerge. There is so much deeper we can go with Seven Soldiers (showing trends in Grant Morrison’s writing; how mythology intersects with comics; how Seven Soldiers illustrates emergentism), but to do so can remove the joy of discovering these things for yourself. When it comes down to it, I love the puzzle this series presents. Like Frankenstein (or the Miser’s Coat) it is a patchwork of disparate parts sewn together by a master. It rewards countless readings and delves into multiple genres. It has inspired me to take another look at what can be accomplished in fiction. I’m fascinated to see, in light of developing technologies, how storytelling evolves. And it all began with Grant Morrison and Seven Soldiers of Victory.

Steven King


JLA CLASSIFIED #1 [VARIANT COVER] ED MCGUINNESS


JLA: ULTRAMARINE CORPS ED MCGUINNESS


SEVEN SOLDIERS OF VICTORY vol.1 Simon Bianchi and Dave Stewart


SEVEN SOLDIERS OF VICTORY vol.2 Cameron Stewart and Dave Stewart


SEVEN SOLDIERS OF VICTORY vol.3 Yanick Paquette and Serge Lapionte with Dave Stewart


SEVEN SOLDIERS OF VICTORY vol.4 Doug Mahnke and Dave Stewart


SEVEN SOLDIERS OF VICTORY vol.1 and 2 [new edition] Ryan Sook


SEEMS EASY, DOESN’T IT?

DCU BY GRANT MORRISON - BOOK 8  
DCU BY GRANT MORRISON - BOOK 8  
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